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Cathay Pacific CEO 'relatively confident' air cargo market will pick up in H2

* Cathay cargo volumes fell 5.5 pct in Q1

* Decline in March smaller than in February

* Volumes go up and down with economic sentiment - CEO (Adds Cathay cargo statistics)

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd Chief Executive Rupert Hogg said he was "relatively confident" the air cargo market would pick up in the second half after a weak start to the year.

"We tend to do quite well in cargo but the volumes do go up and down due to general economic sentiment," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a media event in Beijing on Wednesday.

"I'm relatively confident that cargo will get stronger in second half this year."

The Hong Kong-based airline is one of the world's largest cargo carriers and has previously said it was keeping a close eye on U.S.-China trade tensions.

Cathay Pacific has said that its cargo volumes fell by 5.5 percent in the three months ended March 31, but that the decline was smaller in March than in January and February.

The International Air Transport Association last month nearly halved its annual forecast for traffic growth in the air cargo market to 2 percent, citing trade frictions, Brexit and anti-globalisation rhetoric. (Reporting by Stella Qiu and Brenda Goh; writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar)